Radiological impact of phosphogypsum discharged into the Venice lagoon: 222Rn
CNR - Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Surfaces – C.so Stati Uniti 4 35127 Padova, Italy
For about 20 years, between the 60 ’s and the 80 ’s of the last century, in the Passo a Campalto area (Lagoon of Venice - Italy) about 400,000 m3 of phosphogypsum (PG) were deposited at the border of the lagoon and next to urban areas without any environmental control. These materials are a by-product formed during the wet processing of phosphate rocks by sulphuric acid and have a significant environmental impact due to their abundance and their chemical-physical and radiochemical characteristics. The PG contains both chemical elements, which are considered dangerous for the ecosystems and natural radionuclides whose concentrations are much higher if compared to those typical for the Earth’s crust. These discarded materials caused for many years the dispersion of radionuclides in the environment due to the tidal erosion, the re-suspension of radioactive inhalable dusts, the uncontrolled radon exhalation and the bioaccumulation of some radionuclides in the lagoon environment. After a decision of the appointed authorities, the Venice Water Authority (Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport), planned a permanent safety control of the site resulting in the complete isolation of the entire volume of contaminated materials from the environmental system. The entire project was specific for the particular features of the site and it required the improvement of analytical, sampling and measurement techniques in order to verify the effectiveness of the safety action. The radon assessment, in particular the check of the effectiveness of the inhibition of radon exhalation, is part of a more complex study, covering many other aspects of the management of a permanent disposal; they will be the object of further notes. The ultimate results of this study prove the efficacy of the intervention: radon concentrations in air and exhalation values from the restored area, measured during surveys, have been proved to be well in agreement with those of non contaminated soils.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences - SIF 2012